Big Data at the Crossroads of Antitrust and Consumer Protection

By Ginger Zhe Jin (University of Maryland) & Liad Wagman (Illinois Institute of Technology)

The rise of big data in the global economy has led to concerns about antitrust and consumer protection, but policy makers often treat the two areas separately. The separate treatment is justified in classical markets because antitrust tends to focus on firm-to-firm interactions, while consumer protection deals with firm-to-consumer interfaces. The two areas may also be subject to different laws, and any crossovers between the two have tended to be small. However, big data blurs the distinction between the two, causing them to intertwine, complement or even conflict with each other. This paper uses examples to illustrate why that is the case and identifies areas that would benefit from more economic research.

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